IT was nigh on impossible to tell that there was a division between MK Dons and Sheffield Wednesday as they shared a 0-0 draw in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
By no means a classic by any stretch of the imagination, Dons more than held their own against their Championship opponents in a game in which chances came at a premium.
Overall, the 11,500 fans leaving after the game probably won’t have begrudged Dons the upper hand in the affair, with the better chances falling their way in the closing stages of the second half.
Travelling without eight first team players, Karl Robinson’s line-up looked a bit on the thin side, with a bench two short of a full compliment, and three teenagers to bolster it.
Struggling Wednesday started well, taking the game to Dons and forcing them onto the back foot. Mamady Sidibe saw an early header go wide, and Kieran Lee should have done better from the edge of the six yard box but missed the ball entirely as he looked to shoot.
Riding out the storm though, Dons got the ball down and began to play their usual brand of football – much to the discontent of the home supporters.
The midfield trio of Alan Smith, Ryan Harley and former Wednesday man Darren Potter played neat triangles around the chasing home team’s players, who like the fans were growing ever more frustrated with their lack of possession.
But there wasn’t much in the way of a goal-scoring opportunity in the first half at either end – the best falling to another former Wednesday turned Dons player Ryan Lowe who almost capitalised on Martin Taylor’s slip in the box, but keeper Stephen Bywater was quick to jump on the ball. Lowe had half-hearted penalty appeals turned away as he claimed to be pulled down by the keeper.
It was a similar story in the second half too. Without many chances at either end, the game played out as a lukewarm midfield battle.
As the home fans continued to lose faith in their side’s ability, Dons carried on with their swift passing play, giving Wednesday the runaround.
A few changes from both Dave Jones and Robinson made for an exciting final 20 minutes, but the best chances fell to the visitors.
As the clock counted down, Dons continued to keep the pressure on their Championship opponents, First, a great move between Dean Lewington and Harley saw the on-loan man through on goal, but Bywater just did enough to loop his shot over the top. Then, as Wednesday failed to clear the corner, Shaun Williams tried his arm from range, but another deflection took the ball just wide of the far upright.
Two minutes later, it was Williams again was picked out by Lowe in space on the edge of the D, and his low drive beat Bywater, but not the post as it bounced off the base of the woodwork.
The draw will see Wednesday come to stadium:mk in the next couple of weeks for the replay and the chance to play against either QPR or West Brom, who also shared a draw.
It was certainly a comfortable afternoon for the Dons defence. Williams and Antony Kay it a quiet match for keepr David Martin – the only concern was Kay’s nose injury as he clashed heads with Chris Maguire.
“I think, looking back, we dominated,” said Kay. “We kept our style of play and we should have won in the end.
“We knew how they’d play. They’re direct, they’re a big physical side and I felt we coped well. We got the ball down well and started to play and had a great chance at the end which hit the post.
“We focus on our own game, getting the ball down and passing. Obviously, we look at the opposition and we did work on stopping them, and we did that.
“The more games you play, the more tired you get and we’ve got a lot of injuries at the moment.
“We’ve come here and dominated so we’re looking forward to the home leg now.”